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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade

From the Vault

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The American Gift Book, Part 2

If the bindings, illustrations, novelty of the formats, or the social causes connected with gift books were not enough to entice buyers, perhaps the textual content could. These were, after all, books. Gift books were carefully calculated not to risk offense, prompting Walt Whitman (DEMOCRATIC VISTAS, 1888, p. 65) to recall them as "those highly‑refined imported and gilt‑edged themes... causing tender spasms in the coteries, and warranted not to chafe the sensitive cuticle of the most exquisitely artificial gossamer delicacy." Whitman was correct, of course, and his comment was directed toward the bad poetry, most of it by women, as previously discussed. But there was also good poetry, including many early first appearances by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Russell Lowell, and even Henry David Thoreau.
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Heimito von Doderer - The Austrian National Library buys important autographs

The Austrian National Library has bought 44 letters by the poet Heimito von Doderer which were written to Dietrich Weber, a famous scholar in German literature and a life-long specialist of Doderer's works. These letters were the beginning of a close friendship between the scholar and the novelist.
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Book Sizes and Taking Advantage of Bald Men

Book Sizes, also known as a book's format, at first sight come across as a bit pointlessly arcane: Folio: Fo. or 2° (try and imagine the 2 as really big and the O as really small). Quarto: Qto. or 4to or even 4°. Octavo: Oct. or 8vo. Duodecimo: 12mo (usually spoken as twelvemo). Sextodecimo: 16mo (sixteenmo). Vicesimo-quarto: 24mo (twentyfourmo). Tricesimo-secundo: 32mo (thirtytwomo). They are the most commonly used. There are a myriad of variations within each theme "Crown Octavo", "Elephant Folio" , "Royal Quarto", "Small..", "Squat.." etc. These are usually tied to bibliographical descriptions from SOMEONE OLD AND DISTINGUISHED tm. who wrote about this book eighty years ago and whose word has been taken ever since.
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Fictional Characters

In 1963 William Freeman, an Englishman, created the first Dictionary of Fictional Characters. It made 458 pages and was published by J.M. Dent Ltd. in London. The author was 83 years old when he finished this 2-year research project.
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Report from the 2008 Grand Palais Paris Bookfair

Some 157 bookdealers (a third from outside France) and 30 print sellers were present at the fair. The Grand Palais location with its vast volumes and excellent natural light, presented almost ideal conditions for both exhibitors and visitors: 3m deep booths and wide alleys with rest areas, a concert area (with thrice daily chamber music concerts), a conference room, various displays (bindings and photographs) and demonstrations (restoration, binding and copper plate printing); and a spectacular exhibition by this year's guest library, the Bibiotheque Nationale de France.
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New Trends in the International Antiquarian Book Trade

We all blame the internet for dramatic changes in the rare book trade. But have our problems really changed within the last decades? Reading Anthony Rota's lecture given in Tokyo in 1990 you could be inclined to say: No! He writes: "Booksellers, like the collectors and librarians they serve, are conservative creatures. By their very nature they are resistant to change; yet they are caught up in the changes that beset us today, and if they do not welcome them they must at least learn to adapt to them if they are to flourish. The antiquarian book trade has managed to cope with changes over a number of centuries now, and I do not doubt for a moment that it will continue to do so."
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